Monday, May 30, 2005


The Party ended successfully. Having scraped the last remaining guests off the floor, I escaped to the sanity of my bedroom. The much neglected Beast got a major share of TLC before I passed out. The next day went by in a haze. I decided that after all this high tech stuff I needed a resort to nature, to a simpler life. Something evocative of my youth. The obvious answer was a weekend in the Sanctuary. For those of you who don't know, the Sanctuary is a house in the hills, which a friend and I built. It started off as sheer folly, but is now a welcome retreat from heat, people,work and ...well life in general. The main problem about holidays in the hills is that you have to pick your people carefully. This is not like a party where you can swan into another room or pick up your keys and leave because the guests are a pain in the ass. There are no emergency exits in the Sanctuary.
Having looked at various guest options, I decided on Diplo Version 1, because he is leaving in a few days. Myself (naturalment). The Newsman, because he is a good sport and despite odd lapses in behaviour is a fun kind of guy. Then there's my friend from Karachi - let's call her Dimples, because she sports two when she smiles. And she smiles an awful lot. I think I found Dimples vaguely attractive during my schooldays when my hormonal surges and sexual tendencies were in tumultuous conflict with each other. Oh yes. Lady M tried to get herself and the Jellyfish included. I put my foot firmly down.The four of us (sans M and the Amphibian) took off in elated spirits.
Along the way up, I kept wondering if I had picked on quite the right combination of people. Dimples didn't know the other two men and also happened to be the token heterosexual and the token woman to boot. Diplo and the Newsman were a little shaky. Newsman had refused to RSVP Diplo's last party on the pretext that he was "young and effusive" (or words to that effect) and was exempted from the requirement. Just as love means never having to say you're sorry, youth (or relative youth) means never having to RSVP. Whatever. We drove on regardless. We're stuck with each other for the next 36 hours, I thought. Maybe I can just retire from it all and pretend I have work to do.
I am glad to report that I was proven wrong. If people are basically civilised they can get along with each other in any circumstances. The Newsman and Diplo have North American educations. Dimples and I are of the Brit persuasion. Straight, gay, male, female, old, young. The spectacular view from my garden, copious quantities of grape juice and an arctic breeze ironed out whatever differences there were. Oh yes, television is banned in the Sanctuary. This means having to survive with music, books or, that long forgotten institution, the board game. For me, the most comic moments arose when we staggered in to play Taboo. For the unitiated, this is almost like charades and involves one person trying to get another to guess a word, without using certain key words. Diplo had to get Dimples to guess "Anchovies" without using the word "pizza". The exchange ran like this
Diplo: Small black, squiggly things
Dimples: Eels ?
Diplo: Sprinkled on flat round things found in chain Italian restaurants.
Dimples: Gnocchi.
Diplo: Gnocchi. Are you mad.Have you ever heard of Gnocchi Hut. Or Gnocchi Express ?
Or take another exchange where the word was "actor."
Diplo: Think Paul Newman
Dimples: Salad dressing ?
Diplo (with head in hands) : I give up!
For all my sins I got "wrench".
Me: An implement.
Diplo: What does it look like?
Me: I don't know. I've never used one.
Diplo: What does it do?
Me: I haven't the foggiest. Only real men use them. And I don't know any.
And so it went. Good clean fun. I haven't had that in a long long time. With all my clothes on.
Ps: What does one do with a wrench ???


Blogger Sin said...

The Newsman. He of the strawberry forgiveness package? Glad you had a good weekend. I've never really understood what one would do with a wrench either. Wrench things?

3:44 pm  
Blogger s said...

taboo is a brilliant game!

i had a getaway weekend, as well. p.b. and i went to a resort in the desert, and it was awesome. we spent more than half our time playing scrabble and even when we weren't playing scrabble, i kept on thinking of words that would help me score points!

i have become SO obsessed that the moment i looked at wrench, i calculated: w(4), r(1), e(1), n(1), c(3), h(4) = 14 (placed on a triple letter square) = sarah kicks p.b.'s ass!

i think i need to check myself into a rehab.

10:23 pm  
Blogger assiniboine said...

I suspect I am an expert at mountain chalet entertainment of the kind you describe, having spent childhood summers on a farm and at beach cottages, and an inordinate proportion of my adulthood in the remoter reaches of the Solomon Islands jungles and the New Guinea highlands. Possibly the expertise more from the former than the latter: I take it there are no hyper-friendly locals in the galis who spy one through the flywire reading by the light of the kerosene lamp and say, "My God [or words to that effect] -- isn't that just pathetic! All he has to do is read books, and all by himself? Let's go and visit/invite him over to our house/go night-hunting for flying foxes and tree kangaroos [and then sit around chitchatting about bugger all, little realising he'd far rather be reading the next chapter of
Dombey and Son]." Drop-in visitors to our farmhouse of a Sunday evening found our Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit expertise way over their heads and entering into the fray no fun at all, so occasionally offered other challenges. I am here to tell you
that at 12 I could finger-rassle down the brawniest cow-milker with my piano-player hands. You are not to draw adverse inferences about a
predilection for solitude and highly developed digital strength and dexterity.

But what is the difference you avert to between a North American and a British education? I have been subjected to Canadian and Australian and I am quite certain that the dichotomy you propose isn't entirely valid. The Canadian variety involved regular office hours posted on office doors by faculty and an open invitation to come and discuss issues arising out of lectures and seminars (I speak from both sides of that door, as 'twere), and expeditions to the pub (or to the rooftop bar)
with lecturer and fellow seminar members after class, dinner parties at lecturers' houses and sherry in their rooms with dust-mote laden sunbeams streaming in the dormer windows from the quad. The Australian variety involved absolutely no contact between faculty and plebs outside the lecture theatre and, if one naively made bold to knock on a lecturer's office door to seek elucidation of some obscure point, the response, "What are you doing
here? This is my office. If you have any questions....look it up for yourself."

Which of those two models is "North American" and which is "British" in your view?

11:48 am  
Blogger Uber Homme said...

Sarah: wow play scrabble. I though it had become totally obsolete! My new set (via Amazon) is now parked in the Sanctuary. Let's play one day! My first game on the new set got me covering TWO triple word scores with one word for the first time ever in my life!

1:10 pm  
Blogger s said...

it's not obsolete! i had been dying to get back into it again for a while (we used to play all the time in karachi) so i bought it a month back, and since then, family evenings revolve around it (dad kicks our ass while reminiscing about the good ol' days when he was the champ in the Navy) and i play it all the time at p.b.'s as well. i actually carry it in my car (i know, i am obsessive and retarded).

anyway, I haven’t conquered it yet and am dying of jealousy over your insane achievement of placing a word on two triple letter squares! and there is NO way in hell i'm playing you after you have admitted that (i'm a sore loser!).

3:24 pm  
Blogger Uber Homme said...

Sarah: I lucked just the once. If you want serious Scrabble, I'll put you through to the newsman. Apart from weird two letter words (all of which regrettably exist) he also carries one of those chess timers with two clocks! How on earth do you play in the car ? Or is that just to make sure you're never too far away from it ?

9:04 pm  
Blogger Uber Homme said...

Mac: Neither! The brit system is weirdly unique. I've always believed that the Canadian, Oz and US systems have more in common. I"ll save it for a blog. Promises, promises!

9:05 pm  
Blogger Sin said...

I. Love. Scrabble. Bring it ON!

1:32 am  
Blogger assiniboine said...

I am in danger of becoming the resident pedant, but, despite the acerbity of the response to my little aperçu about ff (orthographical, not musicological) I beg to differ further. There isn't a British educational system. As with jurisprudence there is an English one and a Scottish one and the English system pertains in England and Australasia; the Scottish one in North America. Ie, in the latter case, catholicity being favoured over specialisation at undergraduate level -- knowing a little about a lot rather than a lot about a little. (Have you noticed any tendency to dilettantism in your Scottish/North American acquaintance?) That being said, within those broad parameters surely the British/North American dichotomy is less an issue than the amount of ivy on the walls. One gathers that when John Kenneth Galbraith was a tutor at Winthrop House at Harvard and Joe Kennedy Jr. was a student it was rather Oxbridgian; I'll be you a nickel that the Universities of, say, Nebraska and Keele have more in common with each other than with Harvard and Yale or Oxford and Cambridge.

That was very boring, I now see. Mea maxima culpa.

10:21 am  
Blogger Uber Homme said...

Mac: I don't have your encyclopeadic knowledge on the distinction. Never having been to a US college, I can only generalise looking at the end products that emerged. My own year at school is interesting as a case in point. Roughly half the students going abroad to study went to England (alas, nobody went to Scotland) and the other half to the United States. To my mind there was a perceptible difference between the "finished" products that returned. I'll save the difference for a blog ..and earn the ire of all involved in the process!

5:53 pm  

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